YARMOUTH — The Cumberland Town Council approved on Dec. 14 selling a town-owned gravel pit, located in North Yarmouth, to the Yarmouth Water District.

Cumberland Town Manager Bill Shane outlined the purchase and sale agreement at the Dec. 14 meeting that includes a price of $290,000 in addition to a 99-year lease of Yarmouth Water District land to Cumberland to use for storage for their Public Works Department. The lease is awaiting Maine Public Utilities Commission approval and, if denied, the price of the gravel pit will be raised to match the highest bid at $325,000. The closing of the purchase and sale agreement will be April 1. 

The gravel pit was originally used by Cumberland to cover a local landfill, which was closed down in the early 1990s, according to Shane. The land, consisting 10.3 acres off Sweetser Road in North Yarmouth, has gone pretty much untouched since then.

Eric Gagnon, superintendent of the Yarmouth Water District, speaking at the Dec. 14 Cumberland Town Council meeting. Contributed

Eric Gagnon, superintendent of the Yarmouth Water District, expressed interest in buying the land at the Nov. 9 Cumberland Town Council meeting, pointing out that the gravel pit is in North Yarmouth’s groundwater protection overlay zone, “which specifies and protects areas that contribute and recharge the groundwater aquifer,” according to the meeting minutes.

The pit is adjacent to two production wells owned by the Yarmouth Water District, which supply 75% of the district’s water capacity.

Gagnon said he and his colleagues at the Yarmouth Water District were worried that a contractor would buy the land to reclaim the 70,000 cubic yards of gravel that the pit holds.

“That could take years to do and to have that equipment and truck traffic poses an issue for the protection of the resource,” Gagnon said.

Eighty North Yarmouth residents signed a petition in support of the sale to the Yarmouth Water District, according to Michael Booth of North Yarmouth, who presented this fact during public discussion at the Dec. 14 meeting.

The Yarmouth Water District allows public access to its properties for hunting, fishing, trail walking, mountain biking and cross country skiing. No vehicles are allowed.

Gagnon described the public as “the eyes and the ears for the protection of the resource.” People often report any mistreatment to the land, such as littering, to the district so district employees can go clean it up. Gagnon said the district is also looking into developing formal trail systems there for community members to enjoy.

Gagnon thanked the Cumberland Town Council for recognizing the environmental significance of the land at the Nov. 9 meeting and added, “the Yarmouth Water District strives to be good stewards of the water resource while also realizing the importance of community access to and enjoyment of the watershed protection land.”

Comments are not available on this story.